Electronic Design

Linux Is Dull! Long Live Linux

Heard any news about embedded Linux lately? If so, it was probably more of the same—a bit dull. This is actually a good thing. Such is the case when a technology becomes so good and ubiquitous, nobody gives it a second thought. It's there. It works. This isn't to say there aren't some interesting things going on the Linux community, though. Actually, there are quite a few.

At the Freescale Technology Forum, TimeSys presented its Freescale Linux Component Repository, where TimeSys Linux updates for the Freescale PowerPC processor. At Supercomm, Wind River and Artesyn Technologies announced support for OSDL Carrier Grade Linux (version 2.0.1) on Artesyn's AdvancedTCA telecom blades. Red Hat released its Red Hat Directory Server as a GPL project included in its Linux distribution. It's based on the Netscape LDAP server, which Red Hat recently purchased. And earlier this year, Lynuxworks put User-Mode Linux (UML) on the PowerPC.

Okay, there's nothing earth-shattering here. But these announcements were significant and much appreciated by various groups of developers. What is noteworthy is the number of announcements. They also indicate another trend in device drivers. New chips and devices are arriving with Linux drivers, and they're often the first drivers available. In fact, it's more unusual now to find a device that doesn't come with a Linux driver.

On another front, the open-source, virtual-machine manager (VMM) known as Xen is gaining traction. Work is already progressing on version 3, and it's taking advantage of these Linux drivers. It essentially moves the drivers to one side and puts stubs in the guest operating systems. Not surprisingly, the first guest operating system was Linux, though most open-source operating systems (such as BSD) are supported, too.

So if you're looking for a Linux blockbuster, you might have to wait for a while. On the other hand, if you need Linux for a cell phone, to manage a network switch, or to run a cluster, it's already here. It no longer pays to talk about the major justifications of one operating system over another at this level. Obviously, it's important for a specific product. But then memory, processors, and tools become the critical factors.

Linux is now one of the acceptable alternatives on the operating-system side. In fact, there probably would be less discussion about whether Linux is suitable than whether C++ or Java should be employed for application development. Now that we're done with the dull topic of Linux, it's time to install the the latest version of Xandros (3.0) on one of the PCs in the lab.

TAGS: Freescale
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